Juvenile delinquents are lodged with hardened criminals at the Seoni district jail in contravention of the law, family members and activists said on Wednesday, underpinning the trauma faced by minors during detention.
The Juvenile Justice Act stipulates that minors detained for petty crimes should be kept away from hardened criminals.
Juvenile delinquents in Seoni district are lodged at an observation home within the old jail premises. The home is run by the women and child development department.
Parents and activists have expressed concern as it can spoil the future of minors instead of reforming them.
“Ten-year-old Rohit (name changed) was caught by police for stealing. He was lodged in the observation home which is popularly known as jail. The parents are concerned for his son as instead of reforming his life, he is undergoing a trauma as he is called a jail inmate,” said an inmate’s relative who didn’t wish to be named.
“Another major concern for them is hardened criminals can change his mentality,” the inmate’s relative added.
However, officials said no rule was violated.
“We are putting our best effort to reform the life of children,”the observation home in-charge Neelima said.
Juvenile offenders have to live together: PS
Women and child development department principal secretary JN Kansotiya said, “In the home, our whole emphasis is on reformation. We will shift the children to new building. But when it comes to segregation, all the minor criminals have to live together as there is no rule of segregation among them.”
Bharti Ali, the co-director a centre for child rights HAQ, said, “There is no confusion over rules relating to observation home, place of safety and segregation. I am surprised if officers are not aware about the clearly stated rules.”
“Minors shouldn’t be lodged in old jail premises as it will have a negative impact on the psyche of children. Similarly, segregation is necessary because a bad company can turn the mindset of minors.”